GoldListing/Vocabulary & Writing
I came across this video might be interesting for you. The guy learned Spanish fluently in 10 months and using a combination of language programs including LingQ.
Welcome to the LingQ community! :-)
It's probably "not" a good idea to experiment "blindly".
As a (former) language coach I'd first ask my students some basic questions before
discussing the details of language learning, i.e. learning habits, strategies and tools:
- Language level: What's your level in Spanish (beginner / intermediate / advanced)?
- Why: Why do you want to learn Spanish (for business or university, just for fun, etc.)?
- Goals: What do you want to achieve at which language level? For example,
conversational fluency on an intermediate (B1/B2) level, but without writing.
- Time: When do you want to achieve your goals? And what's your daily / weekly
- Strategies and tools: What have you tried so far?
Depending on your answers, it'll be easier for us to determine which learning strategies and
(online) tools could be helpful for you. Otherwise, we'll simply throw some "random
stuff" at you (SRS à la Memrise or Anki, Gold Method, Audio Readers, Writing Forums, Italki, whatever) that will confuse you even more :-)
Have a nice day
Hi Peter, thank you for the reply.
To answer your questions:
Level: Beginner. Although I did take spanish in high school (35 yrs ago) it was the typical methods of back in the day that didn’t stick. I do remember some words and grammar, but I’m definitely a beginner.
Why: I would love to be able to communicate in spanish with people I encounter, from friends to my children’s friends to strangers. My daughter learned the language in school, but she attended a school as (a non-boarding student) with boarding students from all over the world. She is fluent. It is a beautiful language and will open up an entirely new world to me, especially because my closest friend speaks it. I also love learning about culture and the perspective of others.
Goals: To be fluent in spanish. I don’t need to be a scholar in the language, but I do want to become fluent in conversation and reading the language.
Time: There is no deadline for me, however, I approach all my goals with short and long term time frames, so with that said, right now here is my timeframe: (started a week ago) Dec- Be able to hold short conversations with my close friend and daughter. June 2021- Be able to be conversational and comfortable speaking the language with natives, even though not like a native proficiency. June of 2022 “fluent” (always more to learn but able to speak, read, write without much hesitation).
Strategy: I’m still in the early phase of figuring that out, but for now- LingQ + reading, netflix, and other comprehensible input sources. Then Italki around November with a tutor. And speaking to my friend and daughter in spanish.
So what I am confused about is the methods people learn vocabulary. It seems most get it through input, and not so much flash cards, gold listing, memorization. But I need help on what and when I should be incorporating writing into my daily routine.
Thank you for any advice!
I understand your confusion because there are many strategies for language (here: vocabulary) acquisition / learning and retention. Which mix of strategies you use depends on personal experimentation (what works for you and what doesn't?) and, as @bembe said, on "individual choice".
For the sake of argument, I'll first present some basic positions regarding language / vocabulary acquisition and retention (Part I).
Then I'll give you my take on it (Part II).
Finally, I'll make some suggestions what you could do (Part III).
I. SOME BASIC POSITIONS REG. THE ACQUISITION & RETENTION OF LANGUAGE (VOCABULARY, ETC.)
1. The "(comprehensible and interesting) input first" position (Stephen Krashen, Steve Kaufmann, Matt Bonder, etc.)
Forget explicit grammar study, error correction, memorization, language drills, output and communicative interaction - at least in the beginning. Simply get a lot of exposure to your target language by reading, listening, using AV media or combining these approaches with the help of audio readers (à la LingQ), video subtitles, etc.
Sooner or later, the magic of language acquisition will happen.
See, for example, the Natural Approach () or
the Mass Immersion Approach ().
Variant 1: The "input purist" position (sometimes Steve Kaufmann and other LingQers)
Incidental learning by getting a lot of exposure / by doing (mass) immersion is enough.
Deliberate learning of vocabulary using retention tools like spaced repetition systems (SRS), the Goldlist method or traditional vocabulary notebooks etc. is neither necessary nor helpful (especially if these tools lack important contextual information).
Variant 2.: The "input first and light use of retention systems" position (sometimes Steve Kaufmann, etc.)
SRS & Co. can be helpful to a certain degree, , e.g. to remember difficult expressions.
Variant 3: The "input first, but heavy use of retention systems" position (Matt Bonder / Mass Immersion Approach, Kathzumoto / AJATT = All Japanese All The Time, etc.)
Retention tools like SRS can be very helpful, especially at the beginning of the language learning process, as they can create a lot of momentum by learning frequent words and collocations, i.e. formulaic word groups beyond idioms (see below), early on.
Variant 4: The "input first with interaction early" position (this position can be used with or without retention systems)
See, for example, Jeff Brown:
2. The "output early, even speaking from day 1" position
This doesn't mean that input is negligible, but you shouldn't stay in your comfort zone for long by delaying speaking.
Variant 1: The "speaking early, but without interaction" position
For example, the Michel Thomas method.
Variant 2: "The speaking early with interaction" position
See Benny Lewis ("Fluent in three months").
To be continued
II. MY PERSONAL TAKE
Apart from Jeff Brown's approach, I've tried all these positions (and some more) in my language learning and coaching.
What is clear in this context is that there are two key factors in language learning: Passive exposure and active use.
Active language use in communication situations is really important, but exposure is even more important because you can't use a language without some sort of exposure!
- Getting daily exposure to the target language (let's say 1-3 hours), especially in the "dead" hours of the day (while traveling, exercising, doing chores, etc.), is crucial. Otherwise, there isn't much progress in language learning. Therefore, reading, listening and the combination of reading and listening with the help of audio readers are very effective approaches for the incidental, i.e. non-intentional / non-deliberate learning of vocabulary. Watching AV media (e.g. first with, later without subtitles) can also be effective if the AV content is "word-dense". But, this is usually not the case with movies!
- According to vocabulary researchers (Paul Nation et al.), the combination of intentional and incidental learning can be even more effective than the incidental learning through language exposure alone. So, there is also a place for explicit grammar study, error correction, pronunciation/accent training, vocabulary retention tools, etc in the language learning process. But, this doesn't change the fact that exposure is king! Without it, not much will happen.
- Retention tools like SRS have advantages and disadvantages.
- Major advantages of an SRS are:
1) They can boost your language learning, esp. in the early stages of your journey, by learning the 100, 500, 1000, etc. most frequent expressions..
2) Spaced repetition and active recall are highly effective techniques that help you remember things for a long time. In other words. they're superior to simple cramming and rote learning. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaced_repetition (and the important point here is: "The biggest contribution to effective long term learning was the spacing between the repeated tests (relative spacing)").
3) Software like Anki, Memrise, etc. that implemented spaced repetition algorithms is superior to simple paper solutions (for example: Leitner flashcards - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leitner_system -, Goldlist method, etc.) because of its non-materiality (-.> less space), its flexibility and the use of multimedia elements.
4) Software like Anki is highly configurable and open source.
5) There are many ready-made SRS decks freely available, esp. for Memrise and Anki. So, you can start learning your target learning immediately.
6) Properly used, i.e. not exclusively focused on "individual words", an SRS can contain example sentences, explanations, story elements, collocations, idioms, etc., so that you can enrich and expand your L2 vocabulary very efficiently
Note 1: For some background information on how to (properly) use an SRS in combination with an audio reader like LingQ or why "collocations" are your friends when learning an L2: https://www.lingq.com/es/community/forum/premium-access-forum/how-do-you-review-new-vocabula
Note 2: LingQ has an SRS integrated. So, you have a powerful combo of AudioReader and SRS. You can even export your review list of LingQ-expressions to Anki!
- Major disadvantages of an SRS:
1) Many people don't configure an SRS like Anki correctly, that is: at all! As a result, they quickly feel overwhelmed: too many SRS cards to review, no days off allowed, etc.
2) Many freely available decks are of low or mediocre quality. To be more precise, many decks are simply decontextualized word equations à la "table = mesa". And this is just bad (see the link above for the "collocation" problem)!
On the other hand, don't look a gift horse ... :-)
3) The creation of your own decks can be quite time-consuming, esp. at the beginning of the learning curve!
4) Some people are bored to death using SRS decks. They prefer to focus on interesting content (à la LingQ) - but see below Note 2!
Note 1: This is primarily a problem of decontextualised word equations. Learning a few hundred of the most frequent words doesn't do much harm. But, after that it's just "bad" because L2 learners tend to create their own (imaginary) version of the target language (again: see the link above for the "collocation" problem).
Note 2: Content on the beginner level (A1 / A2) is usually "not" very stimulating. It doesn't matter which content source you use (Assimil, Michel Thomas, LingQ Mini Stories, podcasts / Youtube videos for beginners, you name it)., it's - at best - not completely demotivating.
The problem with SRS starts when you want to learn thousands and thousands of simple word equations (without any context information).
This is probably the worst of the worst. Therefore, it's a good idea to strictly limit the learning of word equations and then switch to higher quality SRS decks.
To be continued
Thank you again for the abundance of information. After taking a closer look at some of these suggestions, I feel comfortable in where I will start. I appreciate you taking the time, and I have read all of what you sent1
No problem. I'm currently writing a book on "digital language learning" (in German), so you got a "compressed" version in English :-)
... the abundance of information.
I'm sorry if all this feels like "Oh - my - God...!".
Unfortunately language learning is much more complex than many people think, especially in terms of the communicative and intercultural dimensions, which I didn't even mention.
Anyway, I'd say that at the moment you've got all the relevant information you need to start your language adventure.
Just keep your study routine as simple as possible and try to develop a daily learning habit. Once this habit is established (it will take about 2 months!), language learning will become "second nature" for you.
III. SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR YOU
1. Maintain your exposure strategy (1-2 hours a day; use esp. the "dead" hours of the day)
Option 1: Work through the beginner content like the "Mini Stories", "Spanish YT vids / podcasts for beginners", etc. on LingQ (see the guided courses and the library)
Option 2: Download the audio files from LingQ to a dedicated device, e.g. a "dumb" MP3 player. Listen to them several times on the same and the following day - without using LingQ.
Option 3: Use LingQ's integrated SRS and review the expressions you don't know daily.
Tip: Mark phrases and word groups (collocations), not individual words, if possible!
Rinse and repeat :-)
2. Try an SRS with ready-made beginner decks for Spanish like Memrise (for some days)
It's free and you can start immediately without having to create the decks yourself.
If it works for you, continue using it 10-15 minutes per day (parallel to the LingQ-AudioReader and -SRS).
If it doesn't work for you, ditch it.
Tip: Choose the Spanish version you want to learn:
3: If you don't like Memrise, try the Goldlist method. (for some days)
You can download a free guide on Lydia Machova's website:
4: If you don't like neither Memrise nor the Goldlist method, you could
- just stick to the "input purist" approach. It may be less effective than the combination of incidental and deliberate learning, but if you get sufficient exposure, language acquisition still happens.
- try an "input-first, but interaction early approach" à la Jeff Brown. See the YT video I mentioned and check out his other videos on Youtube.
- try an "output early" approach à la Benny Lewis (in this case, I would combine Benny's "Fluent in three months" approach with the use of LingQ!)
5. Use a phrasebook app for Spanish and check out the free MP3s for English-> Spanish from "50languages":
6. Use Duolingo (the free version)
The "Duolingo Stories" and the "Duolingo Podcasts" are very helpful for learners on an A2 or B1 level because they are comprehensible and interesting input
But, you should avoid the grammar-translation exercises on the Duolingo main page as they are of limited use for communication.
7. And last, but not least:
Use a writing forum à la https://langcorrect.com, the LingQ forum, etc.
Option 1: Write about "personal" topics, that is: your life, your interests / passions / hobbies, etc.,
Option 2: Write a summary about the Netflix series / movies you're watching. If there are summaries of the episodes / movies on Wikipedia, it's a good idea to read them first.
If you have comprehension problems, use the translation AI "deepl.com" (it's one of the best out there!).
Option 3: You can also use "deepl" to write your texts before you hand them over to native speakers on langcorrect.
Option 4: Later (when you have reached an intermediate level), you can also write summaries of the news. See: https://www.lingq.com/de/learn/en/web/community/post/3384913
I hope that helps!
If speaking is very important to you, then you could start your Italki lessons earlier than the "input purists" fraction would normally do (see the Jeff Brown YT video and Benny's "Fluent in 3 months").
- One more reading tip, esp. for English native speakers who want to learn Spanish effectively:
- And I agree with @beme: Boris Shekhtman, ‘How to improve your foreign language immediately’, is also a great read.
This book follows the (communicative) approach of "doing more with less". In other words, you don't need 10k, 20k, 30k, etc. word(s) (families) before you can start speaking! :-)
That's it for today!
I rather think this varies with individual choice.
Much also depends on what your goals are in the various domains of reading, listening, writing and speaking a language.
Luca Lampariello has some excellent videos and ideas, and he is very enthused with ‘bidirectional translation’:
That writing method obviously works for him.
One of the most interesting books to read about language acquisition is a slim volume by Boris Shekhtman ‘How to improve your foreign language immediately’ (2013, Virginia Institute Press) with some astonishingly good ’tools’ [Show Your Stuff, Build Up Your Islands, Shift Gears, Simplify, Break Away, Embellish it....] He was hugely successful in getting diplomats and journalists to engage in conversation.
That obviously worked well for him, and his students.
Vocabulary building is obviously important in language acquisition, so some individuals really like methods such as a Space Repetition System, Anki, Babbel (photos, sound and flash cards combined), and this ‘Goldlist method’.
And that obviously works well for Lydia Machová!
Do you like quizzes, drills and tests? Do you learn vocabulary (or anything else) from writing things down? Some of these methods are very hard work! Anki and SRS can quickly take you ‘over the horizon’ in terms of your daily workload. The Goldlist framework tries to keep you within a reasonable boundary, but you also need to have quite a disciplined approach: divide your vocabulary into four lists, create a new ‘headlist’ every day, test yourself, copy out any incorrect answers, repeat yourself, test again, ‘rinse and repeat every day’... my own mind starts to wander just thinking about that approach! But ‘À chacun son goût...’ I tried this for a while, but it was mighty laborious and seemed a huge effort for not much result - and although it is useful for ‘hand/eye coordination’ on spelling and the grammatical construction of key phrases it does not assist with listening or pronunciation, which are rather more important for me personally.
With LingQ you have a flexible structure that can be adjusted to suit your own goals and ways of optimal working. For me it makes a lot of sense when Steve Kaufmann points out that many of the existing ‘rote learning methods’ are very slow: I find they are a bit like grinding along in an off-road four-wheel drive low-range geared Jeep, rather than zooming down a highway in overdrive... Do you want punctilious perfection? Or do you want lots and lots of interesting material? There is a continuum here, and you can move around on it.
You already look at Netflix, and ‘seeing/hearing’ is mighty helpful too.
While Steve Kaufmann does not actually say ‘throw away the grammar book’ I recognise what he says from his book ‘The Linguist’ how NOT to teach any language, which is the way most of us unhappily were taught in school, which is ‘Grammar Rules First’, endless drills and exercises that are not always on everyday life themes. Yes, and with all the attendant problems of tongue-tied paralysis and mangled accents from fellow classmates - and even sometimes from the teacher! While there are in actual fact some very helpful grammar points and an opportunity every day to do some SRS micro-training and testing on vocabulary with LingQ, the more important concentration on ‘listening and reading‘, and plenty of it, seems to work well for a lot of people on here. Good to have you join.
But everyone is different. And with different goals. And a varied diet is good both for nutritional needs as well as language learning....
So my advice would be for you to keep experimenting.
By all means try the ‘Goldlist method of learning vocabulary by writing it down’. But for me it was stiflingly slow and personally it did not work for me.
All the best.
Thank you for taking the time to reply. I will take a look at those links; I enjoy both Luca and Steve (I tried for the book but it is selling for around $800 so I'm going to miss out on that one!).
I am familiar with Gold Listing and was about to begin, but I had heard different things about whether or not it's truly effective. It is time consuming, and if it were effective I would make the time, but if it has proven to be best to use other methods then I would prefer to continue to listen and read on this site. I know Luca writes, so I'll have to refresh my memory with his methods, thanks again for the link. I do not believe he or Steve use the Gold List method but Lydia swears by it.
All the best.